Throughout the past months, public space has been – yet again and with renewed urgency – the stage for protests against police violence and racial killings, pointing out everyday (urban) practices of systemic racism, racial segregation, and power structures within our society. The protests have been calling for an alternative way of organizing urban life as well as to ‘Defund the Police’. This academic essay focuses on critically analyzing urban forms of policing and enforcing order. It asks how violent practices of spatial control, such as racial profiling and stop-and-frisk-programs, (re-)produce spatial regulations and policies (e.g., the “Gefährliche Orte” in Hamburg) as well as demonstrate inequal power relations through criminalizing specific bodies perceived as deviant from the norm and ‘other’. I argue that spaces and processes of space-making contribute to urban racial segregation inscribed in material aspects and architectures, accessibility to ‘the public’, but also (policing-)practices of establishing hierarchies. Yet tactics and strategies of resistance constantly challenge ideologies of security and control performed by the police, as urban “Copwatch”-initiatives show. By publicly questioning the legitimacy of police force and spatial racial profiling, local collectives contest these strategies in order to deconstruct inequalities represented in and enforced through public spaces. Thus, alternative knowledge infrastructures are established to fight the racialization (and exclusionary mechanisms) of space. The essay concludes by asking how, especially from a Black urbanist perspective, rethinking the organization of city life through concepts of ‘Defunding/ Abolishing the Police’ can shape a common spatial imaginary towards anti-racist urban space(s), and how I, as a white female urban researcher, can reflect on my own practices, and contribute to this discussion.
Voigt, Maja-Lee (2021): Public Urban Space Matters! Reflections on the Regulation and Racialization of Public Urban Space through Spatialized Policing Practices. In: kritische berichte – Zeitschrift für Kunst- und Kulturwissenschaften, Vol. 3, pp. 8-15.